Muslim tourism
Japanese tourists talk to an Emirati woman volunteer to learn about Ramadan and Emirati culture during the Muslim holy fasting month of Ramadan, at the Sheikh Mohammed Centre for Cultural Understanding (SMCCU) in Dubai, UAE May 17, 2019. (Photo: REUTERS/Satish Kumar)

Thailand has been recognized as the world's second most preferred destinations by Muslim travelers. It is second to Singapore and 18th worldwide in terms of halal market choice by international Muslim communities.

According to the Bangkok Post, the annual survey by CrescentRating and Mastercard, the Global Muslim Travel Index (GMTI) 2019, indicated that Thailand received 57 points, while Singapore took home the most points with 65.

Data from last year revealed that Muslim visits to Thailand reached an estimated 3.6 million, figures equivalent to around 10 percent of total arrivals globally. Due to the increasing trend in halal tourism in the Thai market, new projects are being promoted to further boost the interest of Muslim travelers.

A source with the Tourism and Sports Ministry revealed that the ministry has been pushing for more research regarding the interests of Muslim tourists since March. The Sasin Graduate Institute of Business Administration at Chulangkorn University was hired to help with research on which tourism products and services will meet halal standards.

Furthermore, Sasin is expected to commence training courses for tourism manufacturers and operators with subjects centered on halal products and other related topics.

This year, the ministry is looking to develop halal travel routes that will attract more Muslim tourists. "Travel routes should also provide tourism destinations and allow visitors to experience authentic Muslim cultures and learn about the communities here," Lecturer at the Institute of Asian Studies at Chulalongkorn University, Sukre Sarem, said.

Earlier this year, the Halal Travel Frontier 2019 report suggested that innovations in technology are disrupting halal markets and tourism. Thailand has already been trying to adapt to technological improvements in the halal market.

In 2015, the Tourism Authority of Thailand rolled out the Thailand Muslim Friendly app that helps cater to the needs of the halal tourism segment. It is expected that more apps will be developed to help give relevant information and advice to tourists in search of prayer facilities and restaurants with halal food choices.

It was predicted in April that global halal tourism will expand by a quarter billion in 2026 as more young Muslims explore Asian destinations. Industry analysts said younger audiences in the halal tourism segment are driving change in how older generations make decisions regarding halal travels.

Experts have been urging the tourism sector as a whole to explore possibilities in the global halal segment, especially at this time and age wherein Muslim travelers are in search of destinations that cater to their needs and meet halal standards.